About the Neuroscience Department


Our Department is composed of six research Units. It aims at elucidating the genetic, molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the development, plasticity, and pathogenesis of sensory circuits as well as cognitive functions in the mammalian brain. For this, we are studying brain functions and behavior on multiple scales: from the structure/function of synaptic proteins, to intra- and interneuronal information processing to the identification of genetic and epigenetic factors influencing circuit function. The fundamental research performed in the Department will provide a better understanding of the defective processes in neurological and psychiatric disorders and the necessary knowledge for the development of therapeutic approaches.


The perspective

  • We aim to understand the molecular, cellular, and network mechanisms that shape dynamic connectivity within the brain and result in learning, memory, sensory perception, social communication and cognition.
  • We aim to understand how genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors individually and collectively shape dynamic brain connectivity, and result in neurological/psychiatric disorders.
  • We aim to develop pharmacological and genetic tools for preventing/alleviating/curing peripheral and central neuronal circuit deficits.
  • We aim to understand the influence of the microbiome on the human central nervous system.


The principal expertise of the Department

Questions addressed in the Department are related to how mechanical, biochemical and electrical signals are produced and stored in neurons and neuronal networks to create and represent information. We use genetic, molecular, cellular, and behavioural strategies to understand the fundamental principles of brain function and their alteration in brain disease.



Honorary President of the Department
Research Units
Images / Movies
Software / techniques
Open Positions




With interests ranging from brain development and brain disease to neuronal circuitry, P-M Lledo is best known for his studies of the interplay between sensory inputs and brain plasticity, when the malleability of the nervous system allows experiences to shape the lifelong wiring of the brain. His research has employed techniques from systems and molecular neuroscience to probe the mechanisms of neural wiring, the limits of early brain plasticity, and how such neuronal plasticity depends on neurogenesis throughout life. Such work could have profound implications for developmental disorders as well as learning, education and mood disorders.


P-M Lledo is also directing the laboratory « Genes, Synapses & Cognition » at the CNRS together with Pierre-Jean Corringer, the Laboratory for « Perception and Memory » and the Neurosciences course for Master students both at the Pasteur Institute. He is a member of the Academia Europaea and has been appointed as president of the Scientific Council (Neuroscience section) at the Fonds National Belge de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS).


Isabelle Cloëz-Tayarani from the Human Genetic and Cognitive Functions acts as deputy director. She is also the head of studies of the annual  «  Developmental and Plasticity of the Nervous System » course held at Institut Pasteur in Paris. She is a staff scientist in this Institute with a strong background in neuropharmacology.  Her present research is focused  on the molecular and cellular mechanisms that control the formation and maintenance of neuronal circuits and synapses in mammalian brain and their dysfunctions in autistic disorders. 



Honorary President of the Department


Jean-Pierre Changeux is Emeritus professor at the Collège de France and Honorary President of the Neuroscience Department at the Pasteur Institute.


J-P Changeux used his knowledge of the nicotinic receptor to investigate higher levels of brain organization, in particular the way these receptors participate in reward and cognition. In parallel, J-P Changeux and collaborators proposed theoretical models for defined cognitive tasks that bridge the gap between molecular biology and cognitive sciences and where allosteric receptors play a key role in the regulation of synaptic efficacies. His seminal work on the nicotinic receptor and its allosteric modulation has thus pioneered many new fields of research in signal transduction mechanisms, molecular pharmacology and pathology of chemical communications in the nervous system but also in the organism in general.



Research Units

Unit of Human Genetics and Cognitive Functions headed by Thomas BOURGERON (CNRS UMR 3571)

  • The lab identified the first synaptic pathway associated with autism spectrum disorders (the NRXN-NLGN-SHANK pathway).
  • We are now using genomics, brain imaging and mouse models to understand the impact of genetic/epigenetic factors on neuronal brain circuits related to social interaction and communication.


Unit of Channel-Receptors headed by Pierre-Jean CORRINGER (CNRS UMR 3571)

  • The lab discovered bacterial ancestors of nicotinic/GABAA receptor-channels, and was the first to solve the X-ray structure of an open channel conformation, alone or in complex with general anesthetics.
  • We are now describing, at atomic resolution, the allosteric mechanisms and the regulation by drugs of this important class of neurotransmitter receptors.


Unit of Dynamic Neuronal Imaging headed by David DIGREGORIO (CNRS UMR 3571)

  • The lab has developed and applied novel imaging technologies for high spatial and temporal resolution monitoring and manipulation of synaptic and neuronal signaling.
  • We aim to understand how synapses and neurons mediate sensory information processing in normal and pathological states.


Unit of Perception and Memory headed by Pierre-Marie LLEDO (CNRS UMR 3571)

  • The lab has pioneered novel mechanisms regulating structural and functional plasticity in the mature mammalian brain using the olfactory pathway as a system model.
  • The major topic concerns adult neural stem cells and neurogenesis. We are investigating proliferation/differentiation of neural progenitor/stem cells, neuronal development, synapse formation and cell death/survival.


Unit of Integrative Neurobiology of Cholinergic Systems (CNRS UMR 3571) headed by Uwe MASKOS 

  • The laboratory has established the crucial role of nicotinic receptor subunits, and human polymorphisms, in the dopaminergic system leading to nicotine addiction, and is now pursuing translational approaches
  • We are also studying nicotinic signaling in mammalian circuits, behavior, and psychiatric and neurological disease, using novel deep brain imaging tools.


Unit of Genetics and Physiology of Hearing headed by Christine PETIT (UMRS1120)

  • The lab pioneered the field of the genetic basis of human deafness, the deciphering of the underlying pathogenic processes and the molecular networks underlying auditory physiology at the peripheral level.
  • We aim to extend our research to the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying sound processing in the central auditory pathway, as well as to prevent and treat hearing and visual disabilities. 



Images / Movies



Open Positions


The Department of Neuroscience at the Institut Pasteur aims to become a world leader in the elucidation of the genetic (and epigenetic), molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the neural basis of behavior and social interactions, and brain alteration in neurological and psychiatric disorders. Research programs within the department are fundamental in nature, but are expected to provide a better understanding of human brain disease and identify new therapeutic approaches. We encourage applications from outstanding young and senior faculty interested in the development, plasticity, computational capabilities and pathophysiology of sensory and cognitive circuit function. Start-up packages are generous and can support research programs requiring state-of-the-art techniques.


Our department foresees recruitment in the following key areas:

  • Cortical circuit function, development, and plasticity. The advanced brain functions are localized in the cortex. Understanding how microcircuits transform information flow at the system level is therefore important for bridging cellular to high functions underlying behavior.
  • Molecular architecture and proteomics of synapses. Genetic alterations of specific neuronal and synaptic proteins have been shown to underlie human neurological deficits. Therefore, understanding the molecular players that influence the precise signaling at synapses and within neurons is critical.
  • Mathematical and numerical model of brain computation.  Understanding how the brain computes is undoubtedly a vast complex collection of mathematical operations performed by a biological system. An expert in analytical and numerical approaches is imperative to understand the salient rules and functions of the complex molecular, cellular, and network dynamics within brain microcircuits.
  • Genetics and Epigenetics of the human brain. Understanding how genes and epigenetic factors shape the human brain will be crucial to elucidate both its specific functions as well as its diseases. An expert in human genetics and epigenetics using both wet lab experiments and bioinformatics is required to foster the research on human brain disorders.



Software / techniques

Advances in Neuroscience critically depend on the novel questions that can be addressed by new experimental methods or tools. We have a history in the department for developing technologies beyond the state-of-the-art, which when combined enable a unique environment for cutting edge and even translational research: 

  • Mouse models of human brain deficits
  • Behavioral paradigms for mouse models
  • Derivation of human IPS cells
  • Implants to correct deafness
  • Whole genome analysis strategies
  • Human brain imaging analysis
  • Cellular and network imaging of brain function




Pierre-Marie LLEDO
Institut Pasteur
Chair of the Neurosciences Department
Head of "Perception and Memory" laboratory
Director of the CNRS laboratory “Genes, Synapses and Cognition” (UMR 3571)
25 rue du Dr. Roux, 75724 Paris Cedex 15, France.
e-mail:  pmlledo@pasteur.fr
Assistant: denise.derhy@pasteur.fr - Tel: (33) 01 45 68 82 48


Updated on 31/07/2015